Religion Q&A: What Happened to 'A.D.' and 'B.C.'?

Plus: Bat mitzvah gifts, tipping the priest at a baptism, and how to greet a Buddhist lama

Continued from page 2

Neither the baby's parents nor the godparents are under any obligation to "tip" a Catholic priest officiating at a baptism. However, many families do give the church a monetary gift in gratitude for the priest's services, and to cover the cost of such ceremonies (keeping the church lit and air-conditioned, for example). Some parishes formally request a donation when preparing parents for the baptism (see, for example, this church's

letter to parents

).

According to Father James Martin of America Magazine, a donation from $25 to $100 would be appropriate, depending on the family's circumstances. Typically, this gift would be provided by the baby's parents and would be given to the priest or to the parish office. Religious-order priests (such as Franciscans) are required to turn in to their superiors any honorariums they receive, however small; diocesan priests are not, but would ordinarily turn in to their parish any amount larger than a token sum.

It's unlikely that the parents would ask the godfather to spearhead the transaction. However, if asked, your husband's best bet is to talk to someone who works at the church to see what's customary in the parish.

And to answer your final question: Thank-you notes are never amiss, but ordinarily should come from the parents.

Members Helping Members

As part of Beliefnet's "Religion Etiquette Q&A" column, we occasionally include useful posts by our members. On the message boards, member BlueLotusPetal asked how to behave when meeting Buddhist clergy:

I am going to be introduced to a local Lama at his home in an informal setting. How should I address him? Do I shake hands? Bow? Should I bring a gift? If so, what? What else do I need to know as far as behavior, addressing him, etc.

Member sanath answers:

The etiquette will depend on the tradition of the temple. Basically in all the traditions it is courtesy to put your palms together in

gassho

.

Member hol1 answers:

Dress casually, bring a small gift (how about a small basket of assorted teas) if you want, and just say "Hello, Tashi Deleg...." Follow the others' lead and by all means say "Thank you" after the class.

Speaking of a more formal setting, member little-tara says:

"My Lama, who is an American woman, has not placed a great deal of expectations on how we dress when we are with her, but when we went to a teaching by Terton Namkha Drimed she suggested we dress as if we were going to meet the Buddha. And as women it is culturally appropriate to be cover from the neck to the elbow on top and then pants or a long skirt/dress."

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